Wayne Rooney smashed Bobby Charlton’s record and became England’s greatest ever goalscorer with a fine penalty in the 2-0 win over Switzerland at Wembley last night.
Rooney had toiled throughout the Euro 2016 qualifier against the Swiss but eventually found the net from the penalty spot in the 84th minute after Raheem Sterling was fouled in the box.
The England skipper rifled a fierce shot past Yann Sommer from 12 yards to break Charlton’s 45-year old record.
“To be the country’s all-time leading goalscorer before the age of 30 is not something I could ever have dreamed of and I’m extremely proud tonight,” said the Manchester United man.
“I was a bit emotional out there and it’s something to be extremely proud of. I’m happy it’s done and hopefully I can kick on from here and concentrate on the team and our success in the future.”
Rooney added: “I knew myself it was a big moment for me and I just picked my corner and put my boot through it to get as much power as possible and make it hard for the keeper. He got a touch but thankfully it had too much power.
“I went through a spell around 2008 when I didn’t score for two years for England, and since Roy’s (manager Roy Hodgson) come in I’ve scored a lot of goals and I’m grateful to Roy for letting me play with the freedom that I enjoy.”
Hodgson hailed Rooney’s exploits as an “amazing achievement” and spared a thought for Bobby Charlton, whose record Rooney managed to eclipse.
Hodgson said: “My mind at this time also goes to Bobby Charlton because he was one of our greatest ever players and I’m hoping he’ll be pleased that his record has been surpassed…
The most important thing we have to do is make sure we keep improving our performances because today we didn’t play as well as we could have done and we were fortunate to come out 2-0 winners.”
For so long it looked as if Rooney’s big night was going to end up being an anti-climax. The forward struggled to make an impact, and England looked to be heading for a bore draw.
But Harry Kane stepped off the bench to put England ahead and Rooney blasted home a historic second to give the Three Lions the win that maintains their 100% qualifying record and seals their place at the top of Group E.
Elsewhere, Spain climbed above Slovakia to the top of Group C after a fortunate goal saw off FYR Macedonia. Juan Mata’s cross looped over keeper Tome Pacovski and into the net via the post and the flailing netminder to give the visitors an eighth-minute lead.
Slovakia and Ukraine drew 0-0, which leaves Slovakia in second place, two points behind Spain and three ahead of Ukraine. Mikhail Gordeichuk scored in each half as Belarus beat Luxembourg 2-0 at the Borisov Arena to clinch their second win in Euro 2016 qualifying.
In Group G, Austria continued their dominance as they thumped Sweden 4-1 in Stockholm. Goals from David Alaba, Marc Janko and a brace from Martin Harnik was too much for the Swedes, for whom Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a consolation.
Artem Dzyuba scored four goals as Russia won 7-0 at Liechtenstein to move two points above the Swedes.
Montenegro kept their faint hopes of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship alive with a 2-0 win in Moldova. The visitors, who beat Leichtenstein on Saturday, made it back-to-back victories in Group G thanks to a Stefan Savic strike and Petru Racu’s own-goal.
Montenegro are now three points behind second-placed Russia and one off Sweden in third, with two games remaining.
Hart, Clyne (Stones 68), Cahill, Smalling, Shaw, Milner, Shelvey (Kane 57), Delph (Barkley 3), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rooney, Sterling.
Sommer, Lichtsteiner, Klose, Schar, Rodriguez, Xhaka, Inler, Behrami (Dzemaili 79), Shaqiri, Drmic (Embolo 63), Stocker (Seferovic 72).
Gianluca Rocchi (Italy).
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